New Legislation Requires Homeowners Associations to Allow Artificial Turf

On September 4, 2015, Gov. Brown signed AB 349 into law, effective immediately which amends Civil Code section 4735 and limits the right of homeowners associations to restrict the use of artificial turf.

The law renders “void and unenforceable” any provision in governing documents or guidelines which “prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.” If an owner installs artificial turf in response to a drought emergency, associations cannot require removal of the turf once the emergency has passed. However, associations may still apply landscaping rules in the governing documents, to the extent the rules “fully conform” to these provisions.

Legislation has been passed regarding drought tolerant plants and now artificial turf.  If your homeowners association does not have a policy and/or rule in place to address these issues and inquiries from owners about what they can (and cannot) install in their yards, now would be a good time to consult with association counsel to assist the board in preparing such rules/policies.

Jamie Handrick, Esq.







Pet Rules and Regulations

Generally, associations may not prohibit members from having at least one pet.  California Civil Code Section 4715(a) provides that “No governing documents shall prohibit the owner of a separate interest within a common interest development from keeping at least one pet within the common interest development, subject to reasonable rules and regulations of the association…”  Section 4715 (b) goes on to define a “pet” as any domesticated bird, cat, dog, aquatic animal kept within an aquarium, or other animal as agreed to between the association and the homeowner.

However, as noted above in Section 4715(a) associations may adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding pets.  Reasonable rules and regulations concerning pets may cover restrictions such as the number of pets, weight limits, animals with dangerous propensities, leashing requirements, and tethering prohibitions.  In order to effectively address pet problems, an association should consider adopting a pet policy.  If your association needs assistance with preparing pet rules and regulations, then please contact our office.

Bradley Schuber, Esq.



Directors Duty To Attend Board Meetings

In California, a person who accepts the responsibilities of a director owes several duties to a homeowner’s association including a duty of care, a duty of diligence, a duty to monitor finances, and a duty to act in good faith to promote the success of the organization.  More specifically, California Corporations Code §7231(a) provides, in pertinent part, as follows: “A director shall perform the duties of a director, … in good faith, in a manner such director believes to be in the best interests of the corporation and with such care, including reasonable inquiry, as an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances.”

 However, a person who becomes a director, but then fails to attend board meetings consistently is likely not discharging his or her duties in good faith and in the best interests of the association.  As such, California law is clear that a director breaches the aforementioned duties when he or she fails to attend meetings regularly, to review treasurer’s reports, and to otherwise meaningfully engage in the governance of an association.  Moreover, a person who consents to being a director and then fails to participate may lose the protections afforded by the law as provided under California Corporations Code §7231(c) and California Civil Code § 5800, and may subject themselves to personal liability for breach of his or her fiduciary duty to the membership.  Thus, it is recommended that a person who accepts the role of a director actively participate in the affairs of the association. 

 In the event that a Board believes an individual director is not actively participating then the Board should discuss the matter with the director.  If this proves to be unsuccessful, then it is appropriate for a Board to consult with legal counsel to determine the next best course of action.

Bradley Schuber, Esq.



Election of Officers

In California, unless otherwise specified in an association’s articles or bylaws, officers are elected by the board of directors, and not the general membership.  More specifically, California Corporation’s Code Section 7213(b) provides as follows:  “Except as otherwise provided by the articles or bylaws, officers shall be chosen by the board and serve at the pleasure of the board, subject to the rights, if any, of an officer under any contract of employment. Any officer may resign at any time upon written notice to the corporation without prejudice to the rights, if any, of the corporation under any contract to which the officer is a party.” 

However, it is important to note that when officers are elected by a board of directors pursuant to Section 7213(b), such election cannot be held in executive session.  Moreover, California Civil Code Section 5665 limits the items that may be discussed in executive session, which does not include the election of officers.  Therefore, the election of officers must be conducted in an open session board meeting so that members may attend and observe the election.

Bradley Schuber, Esq.